Bridging the Gap: Research Informing Practice and Policy for Healthy Youth (2012-2014)


Bridging the Gap: Research Informing Practice and Policy for Healthy Youth Behavior is a nationally recognized research program dedicated to improving the understanding of how policies and environmental factors affect diet, physical activity and obesity among youth, as well as youth tobacco use. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation continuously since 1997, Bridging the Gap is a joint project of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Health Research and Policy and the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. This abstract describes current research.

Obesity among U.S. children has risen dramatically over the past few decades, and considerable disparities exist by race or ethnicity and by socioeconomic status. The role of the environment in contributing to poor diets, physical inactivity, and obesity is increasingly clear and environmental and policy interventions are being widely promoted as means for combating this epidemic. To date, there is limited evidence on the effects of these approaches, with Bridging the Gap (BTG) as one of the key contributors to this growing literature.

BTG examines the impacts of state, local and district-level policies as well as school and community characteristics and environmental factors on youth behaviors and weight outcomes. In this phase of the research we are doing the following activities:

  • Collection and coding of school district wellness and other policies
  • Survey of public primary school administrators
  • Collection, coding and reporting of key state policies
  • Analysis and reporting of data from community assessments
  • Analysis and reporting of data on televised food and beverage advertisements
  • Completion of descriptive and multilevel analyses.

BTG's purpose is to generate new information and knowledge relevant to childhood and adolescent physical inactivity, unhealthy eating, and obesity that will stimulate and inform policy change at a number of levels (in schools, communities, states, and nationally). BTG also provides information helpful in assessing progress over time. While the greatest challenges to BTG are behind it, one limitation of BTG's research is the somewhat limited self-reported set of healthy eating, physical activity, and other measures available in Monitoring the Future data. This is offset by the advantages of having long-run trend data on these measures among large, nationally representative samples of youth and by BTG's success in obtaining support from other funders for analyses of other national survey data.

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About this grant

This was the fifth RWJF award for ImpacTeen, which built on previous research. See the latest work by Bridging the Gap.

Related publications

Rimkus L, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Powell LM, Zenk SN, Quinn CM, Barker DC, Pugach O, Resnick EA, Chaloupka FJ. Development and reliability testing of a fast-food restaurant observation form. Am J Health Promot. Am J Health Promot. 2015 Sep-Oct;30(1):9-18. [See abstract.]

Hood NE, Turner L, Colabianchi N, Chaloupka FJ, Johnston LD. Availability of drinking water in US public school cafeterias. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Sep;114(9):1389-95. [See abstract.]

Mandal B, Powell LM. Child care choices, food intake, and children's obesity status in the United States. Econ Hum Biol. 2014 Jul;14:50-61. [See abstract.]

Powell LM, Wada R, Persky JJ, Chaloupka FJ. Employment impact of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes. Am J Public Health. 2014 Apr;104(4):672-7. [See abstract.]

Chriqui JF, Pickel M, Story M. Influence of school competitive food and beverage policies on obesity, consumption, and availability: a systematic review. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Mar;168(3):279-86. [See abstract.]

Zenk SN, Powell LM, Odoms-Young AM, Krauss R, Fitzgibbon ML, Block D, Campbell RT. Impact of the revised Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package policy on fruit and vegetable prices. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Feb;114(2):288-96. [See abstract.]

Terry-McElrath YM, Turner L, Sandoval A, Johnston LD, Chaloupka FJ. Commercialism in U.S. elementary and secondary school nutrition environments: trends from 2007 to 2012. JAMA Pediatr. 2014 Mar;168(3):234-242. [See abstract.]

Mayo ML, Pitts SB, Chriqui JF. Associations between county and municipality zoning ordinances and access to fruit and vegetable outlets in rural north Carolina, 2012. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013 Dec 5;10:E203. [See abstract.]

Powell LM, Schermbeck RM, Chaloupka FJ. Nutritional content of food and beverage products in television advertisements seen on children's programming. Child Obes. 2013 Dec;9(6):524-531. [See abstract.]

Ohri-Vachaspati P, Turner L, Chaloupka FJ. Elementary school participation in the United States Department of Agriculture's Team Nutrition Program is associated with more healthful school lunches. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013;45(6):733-738. [See abstract.]

Isgor Z, Powell LM, Wang Y. Multivariable analysis of the association between fathers' and youths' physical activity in the United States. BMC Public Health. 2013;13(1):1075. [See abstract.]

Rimkus L, Powell LM, Zenk SN, Han E, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Pugach O, Barker DC, Resnick EA, Quinn CM, Myllyluoma J, Chaloupka FJ. Development and reliability testing of a food store observation form. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013;45(6):540-8. [See abstract.]

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Perna FM, Powell LM, Slater SJ, Chaloupka FJ. Association between state physical education (PE) requirements and PE participation, physical activity, and body mass index change. Prev Med. 2013;57(5):629-633. [See abstract.]

Turner L, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Classroom parties in United States elementary schools: the potential for policies to reduce student exposure to sugary foods and beverages. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013;45(6):611-619. [See abstract.]

Powell LM, Harris JL, Fox T. Food marketing expenditures aimed at youth: putting the numbers in context. Am J Prev Med. 2013 Oct;45(4):453-61. [See abstract.]

Mâsse LC, Perna F, Agurs-Collins T, Chriqui JF. Change in school nutrition-related laws from 2003 to 2008: evidence from the School Nutrition-Environment State Policy Classification System. Am J Public Health. 2013 Sep;103(9):1597-603. [See abstract.]

Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ, Powell LM, Eidson SS. A typology of beverage taxation: multiple approaches for obesity prevention and obesity prevention-related revenue generation. J Public Health Policy. 2013 Aug;34(3):403-23. [See abstract.]

Turner L, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Withholding recess from elementary school students: policies matter. J Sch Health. 2013 Aug;83(8):533-41. [See abstract.]

Turner L, Slater SJ, Chaloupka FJ. Support for school-based obesity prevention efforts: attitudes among administrators at nationally representative samples of US elementary schools. Childhood Obesity. 2013 Aug;9(4):311-8. [See abstract.]

Chriqui JF, Turner L, Taber DR, Chaloupka FJ. Association between district and state policies and US public elementary school competitive food and beverage environments. JAMA Pediatr. 2013 Aug 1;167(8):714-22. [See abstract.]

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Powell L, Chaloupka FJ. Association between state laws governing school meal nutrition content and student weight status: implications for new USDA school meal standards. JAMA Pediatr. 2013 Jun 1;167(6):513-9. [See abstract.]

Turner L, Chriqui J, Chaloupka F. Walking school bus programs in U.S. public elementary schools. J Phys Act Health. 2013 Jul;10(5):641-645. [See abstract.]

Hirschman J, Chriqui JF. School food and nutrition policy, monitoring and evaluation in the USA. Public Health Nutr. 2013 Jun;16(6):982-8. [See abstract.]

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Powell L, Chaloupka FJ. Association between state laws governing school meal nutrition content and student weight status. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(6):513-519. [See abstract.]

Cradock AL, Barrett JL, Carnoske C, Chriqui JF, Evenson KR, Gustat J, Healy IB, Heinrich KM, Lemon SC, Tompkins NO, Reed HL, Zieff SG. Roles and strategies of state organizations related to school-based physical education and physical activity policies. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2013 May-Jun;19(3 Suppl 1):S34-40. [See abstract.]

Lyn R, Aytur S, Davis TA, Eyler AA, Evenson KR, Chriqui JF, Cradock AL, Goins KV, Litt J, Brownson RC. Policy, systems, and environmental approaches for obesity prevention: a framework to inform local and state action. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2013 May-Jun;19(3 Suppl 1):S23-33. [See abstract.]

Chriqui JF, Eyler A, Carnoske C, Slater S. State and district policy influences on district-wide elementary and middle school physical education practices. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2013 May-Jun;19(3 Suppl 1):S41-S48. [See abstract.]

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. State laws governing school meals and disparities in fruit/vegetable intake. Am J Prev Med. 2013 Apr;44(4):365-72. [See abstract.]

Carlson JA, Sallis JF, Chriqui JF, Schneider L, McDermid LC, Agron P. State policies about physical activity minutes in physical education or during school. J Sch Health. 2013 Mar;83(3):150-6. [See abstract.]

Slater SJ, Nicholson L, Chriqui J, Barker DC, Chaloupka FJ, Johnston LD. Walkable communities and adolescent weight. Am J Prev Med. 2013 Feb;44(2):164-8. [See abstract.]

Powell LM, Chriqui JF, Khan T, Wada R, Chaloupka FJ. Assessing the potential effectiveness of food and beverage taxes and subsidies for improving public health: a systematic review of prices, demand and body weight outcomes. Obes Rev. 2013 Feb;14(2):110-28. [See abstract.]

Powell LM, Nguyen BT. Fast-food and full-service restaurant consumption among children and adolescents: effect on energy, beverage, and nutrient intake. JAMA Pediatr. 2013 Jan;167(1):14-20. [See abstract.]

Turner L, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Healthier fundraising in U. S. elementary schools: associations between policies at the state, district, and school levels. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49890. [See abstract.]

Zenk SN, Odoms-Young A, Powell LM, Campbell RT, Block D, Chavez N, et al. Fruit and vegetable availability and selection: federal food package revisions, 2009. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Oct;43(4):423-8. [See abstract.]

Turner L, Chaloupka FJ. Slow progress in changing the school food environment: nationally representative results from public and private elementary schools. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Sep;112(9):1380-1389. [See abstract.]

Gittelsohn J, Laska MN, Andreyeva T, Foster G, Rose D, Tester J, Lee SH, Zenk SN, Odoms-Young A, McCoy T, Ayala GX. Small retailer perspectives of the 2009 women, infants and children program food package changes. Am J Health Behav. 2012 Sep;36(5):655-65.

Ayala GX, Laska MN, Zenk SN, Tester J, Rose D, Odoms-Young A, McCoy T, Gittelsohn J, Foster GD, Andreyeva T.  Stocking characteristics and perceived increases in sales among small food store managers/owners associated with the introduction of new food products approved by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Public Health Nutr. 2012 Sep;15(9):1771-9.

Turner L, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Food as a reward in the classroom: school district policies are associated with practices in US public elementary schools. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Sep;112(9):1436-1442. [See abstract.]

Taber DR, Chriqui JF, Perna FM, Powell LM, Chaloupka FJ. Weight status among adolescents in states that govern competitive food nutrition content. Pediatrics. 2012 Sep;130(3):437-444. [See abstract.]

See articles published prior to September 2012.